I have been told that rainwater is good for tomatos (all plants). So I created a rainwater gathering system. Any info. on this subject? Quote " I don't suffer from tomato insanity, I enjoy every minute of it."
Beare - I vote for rainwater. Well water here is better than "chemically enhanced" city water, but the well water is pretty hard. I can't help but believe rainwater is better and will give you better tasting maters along with more production and less disease. Just my opinion, your mileage may vary. The first naysayer will probably say, "what about acid rain".
Nice setup beare. I've only got two 60 gallon barrels and if it doesn't rain soon, I'll have to give the maters some well water. Ed
Very nice, beare. I'm working out a similar system for my greenhouse, but I am going to connect the barrels a little differently. Also, I'd like to use an on-demand pump so I can run the hose straight from the barrels. Does anyone have a make/model that works? SB
I use Flotec (got it from Home Depot, and they have different sizes. Mine has been very dependable. I don't know that much about what you would need for smaller tanks, I have two 2100 gallon tanks that are hooked up together to the pump. As long as there is a few feet of water in the tank, it primes itself, and the pump only comes on when the pressure drops. I turn the pump off when I am not using it, and its always a good idea to have a shut off valve as your first connection to the tank. That way, if you have to repair anything, you don't loose your water.
Tigerlily, excellent, thanks! Does your Flotec have a separate control switch? Is it submersible, or do you have a line from the tank to the pump?
I was thinking of putting shut off valves between each tank, that way I could clean the tanks one at a time without wasting all the water in the system. Also, I could replumb the system without emptying all the tanks if I change my mind about the setup somehow. SB
SB, I wish I could take a picture of the setup-my brother did it all, and added the 2nd tank on afterward. The pump has an electrical switch (this is all outside) and there is a spigot attached to the pump where I put the hose.
From the tank end-there is the tank with a shut off valve that then combines with the other tank (before it combines, there is a small pvc pipe that comes out and has a small shut off valve that allows you to drain the system-very important so that the pipes don;t freeze) and then there is a pvc pipe to a stiffish plastic see thru hose that then goes thru a filter before it gets to the pump. He has the pump on top of Pre-charged pressure tank that is small.
I have the FP4000 series pump. There is a reset button on the pump as well. Its a great setup, I get good water pressure, but gravity will give you ok water pressure without the pumb is your tanks are full and you have the pipe coming out of the very bottom. I have had to use it this way when the electricity goes out.
As cold as it gets where you are, you might want that small shutoff valve that comes off the larger pipe between the tanks so you can drain the pipes between the tanks as well.
I will try to get a picture up for you soon, I am sure that I have probably just confused you more with this explanation.
Thanks, Tigerlily. I've been researching this morning and I've found that you can use a standard pump and pressure tank, like you have, or a special on-demand pump that does not require a pressure tank. Problem is, the on-demand pumps start at $380 and up to $700. No thanks.
I've got two pressure tanks already. The larger one is about 50 gal and it is used to store RO water. The smaller one is about 10 gal I guess. I'm not using it right now.
The pressure tanks don't hold that much water. I can burn through my larger tank and not even finish watering the greenhouse. So my question is, does your pump kick on once you empty the tank, and does it give you enough pressure to water? TIA. SB
SB-confusion here-the tanks that hold the water are different that the pre-charged pressure tank that sits under the water pump. My water tanks are 2100 gallon tanks-they are huge, about 7 feet high and 5 feet wide. They were about $800-1000 each. The pre-charged pressure tank is only about 15" long and 10" wide that sits under the pump-its actually a diaphragm tank. My brother said it all came together-the pump and the diaphragm tank.
When you said that you have a 50 gal and a 10 gal tank-thats just for water storage right? Not pressure tanks?
The pump comes on automatically when the pressure tank empties-every 3 mins or so and it fills the pressure tank up with water again from the storage water tank. I never pay attention to it.
Yes, its great pressure. I can use it with my injector system to fert or to just water. 50 gallons doesn't seem like very much water-I would go thru that in 10 min of watering. Can you get a bigger water tank? Seems like a lot of money for such a small tank.
Tigerlily, I understand that the tanks are different. My 50 gal tank is a pressure (bladder) tank for storage of my reverse osmosis water. You can't make RO water very fast, is comes out in a trickle; you can't use it as it's being made since it is made so slowly; so you have to store it in a pressure tank. This one is from an old deep well. It has a bladder which holds maybe 15-20 gallons. Same principle as your 10" x 15" tank, although mine stands about ~4' high and ~20" in diameter.
My rainwater will be stored in a series of 55 gal barrels like Beare is doing. Your 10" x 15" pressure tank couldn't hold more than a couple of gallons of water; from what you say, I gather that it just fills repeatedly from the pump as you water. As I said, I have a second, smaller bladder tank, about 10 gal, and I could use it for the rainwater pump if I can figure out the hookup and the purpose behind having this little pressure tank. Maybe it is solely to provide even water pressure during use...maybe water pressure directly from the pump is too high or too uneven. Do you have a pressure control switch in the setup somewhere?
Ok..got it...this is not my area of expertise, so bear with me. Yes the pressure tank regulates the pressure of the water coming out. And you can change the pressure control by turning a screw.
I am going to get a picture up within a day or so, because it is a great system. If you already have the pressure tank, then you should be able to just buy the pump and attach it to the top of the pressure tank. Then you just need the shut off valves, the electric switch to turn the pump on and the hose that brings the water to the pressure tank ( and filter if needed) and the appropriate size PVC pipes. I think we got everything from Home Depot.
If you use a hozeon or injector, I would think you do want the pressure tank involved.
Thanks! Linda, I will now see if 400+ gal.s of water will get me from one rain to the next? Due to the run-off I get from my patio cover, 3/4 inch rain fills my 8 barrels. It's enjoyable and even more so when others appreciate your efforts, so thanks again for the positive feedback.
We use rainwater as much as possible. My industrious sweetheart, who is an inventor at heart, set up a great system a few years ago during a drought. We collect rainwater in plastic garbage cans from our runoff pipes from the gutters. Being cheapskates and kind of poor, we don't bother to use any fancy electrics; it's all done by gravity, using pieces of old garden hoses to siphon water from the full tank to the next one...and the next one, etc. One good rain can fill up many "tanks". That year he actually set up a bunch of cans on platforms made from discarded pallets so that I could actually water my garden from a hose which "turned on" when it was lower than the tank. I would hook it up on a trellis with a wacky ceramic glove-mold "Hand" when I was done, this being higher than the tanks. Water was sucked into the tank from the next full one while I watered. When mosquitos appeared we cut holes in the plastic covers that just fit the hose-siphons so they couldn't breed in the captured water. It's not as quick to water the garden as doing it with a hose, but our water bill was tiny, and the plants flourished, as rainwater has so many more minerals; plus it's ambient temperature! The only other drawback besides the slower speed of watering is that the tanks are butt-ugly, but ours were hidden behind an old stockade fence. We don't have all the garbage cans on platforms right now, but I schlep water to my garden in a watering can...a good workout, to say the least. I still break down and suppliment with the hose, but I try to use the rainwater as much as I can.
blackbunny, I know what you mean re: supplimenting with the hose. I had hoped the rain would come sooner but I am down to my last 55 gal. and if it doesn't rain soon, I am going to resort to the hose. I can add 3 more barrels if my wife won't shoot me. That will add approx. 165 gal.s more to the already approx. 440 gal.s I have now. Gravity is cheap but slow. However slow still gets there...
Our water supply is on a well, (VERY COLD year round) so I have a rainwater on gravity system to water my greenhouse. The rainwater is collected off the roof into a rain barrel mounted on a stand behind the greenhouse. The barrel bottom is about 4 feet off the ground. It's connected to the greenhouse with a hose/plumbing fixture through the back wall, with a fawcet on the inside of the greenhouse. I can connect a hose to the fawcet inside the greenhouse to water. Sure, the pressure's not high, but when the watering can's rose spout's attached, it's perfect for watering seedlings!
I have another 4 barrels plumbed together to collect rainwater from our house, with a hose connection to water. The system is set up so that the downspout empties into one barrel, but all 4 barrels have the same level of water in them. If they're all full, they all overflow!
I plan to have two more barrels set up on stand near the rock garden this spring. I use my pond pump/hydroponic pump and transfer water from the house barrels to the greenhouse/ rock garden barrels.
The greenhouse barrel set up will be renovated this spring, to add another barrel.
I plan on growing tomatoes and melons in the greenhouse this summer, so I need the extra water storage capacity. The vegetable garden is in front of the greenhouse, so the extra capacity will be greatly appreciated.
We use recycled olive barrels, with 2 piece screw-on lids, perfect.
The fittings were purchased at the hardware store, 'bulkhead' fittings, drill a hole in the barrel, and the bulkhead fittings screw together from in/outside the barrel. There's a place to screw another fitting into the bulkhead fitting for fawcet/hose...
Sue I have been using a gravity system and it works but being a type "A" I just had to purchase an electric pump 1/3 hp. I haven't used it yet so I am not sure how it will work but will post the results in a day or two. I cleaned my barrels over the weekend and it is raining now. What type of tomatos do you raise there in Canada, right? Jerry
Hey, Jerry, I'm trying a few of heirloom tomatoes for the first time, Big Rainbow, Yellow Pear, Brandywine, as well as a cherry tomatoe, and Roma paste tomatoes. They're up about an inch now, so they have a way to grow yet.
I grew some Roma in hydroponics outside a couple of summers ago, with reasonable success. My thinking is that if I keep them in the greenhouse I might be able to extend the season a bit. lol The tomatoes are just getting started producing and we can get a killing frost anywhere between mid September to mid October, the ground is usually frozen by late November.
I'm still deciding if the greenhouse set up will be hydroponic or earth boxes...I do love to play in the water, and the dirt... I have a statuary pump to play with, too...
Beare, here is my system that dh made last month. He also brings water home from the local water plant and fills a 250 gallon tank down by my gh and veg. garden. the water is about $ .25 per 50 gallons. Living on well water it is a sure way to keep things green.
Beare,I used some kind of sump pump on my garden hose last year and it worked great. I just dropped it in the bottom of the barrel and hooked the hose up and plugged er in and out the water came. I even dropped the pump (well ds or dh ) in the big tank on the back of the truck and watered from that. It sure beat running the well dry once a week. Finally did get the well problem fixed but I like watering this way.
A local plant kept its product in them and when they were finished they had to pay a recycle fee or give them away. We were able to get the two big tanks and about 6 of the blue barrels. Unfortunately our "insider" lost his job there and I am not sure if we can get more. We are scavengers, DH seems to be able to make something from almost nothing!
I have some very large barrels (55 gal) that were used to hold olives. Although they all have screw on covers, the tops are too small to get inside to try to get spouts at the bottom to drain the water..does anyone have any ideas where to get some spouts that might just need to be pushed in through the plastic but will self seal on the inside once that is done? I am hoping there is someone that makes something like that..that would have a washer or something that you could push through with the spout and it would seal tight when pulling it back (am I making any sense here??)
I have seen a set up like that sold but you have to buy the barrels, too...I would like to be able to attach them together at top so they could fill the way y'all are doing, but also have a spout for draining out water at bottom.
Kris, my dh found faucets that just screw in after drilling the hole. He then sealed with some kind of glue and there has been no leaking. I think he paid under $2 for each faucet. Best of all I can attach a hose to it too.
earthling, I have the exact set up you are looking for, the 'bulkhead' fittings were purchased at the hardware store, they're black plastic, with a rubber washer on the inside screw together from in/outside of the olive barrel, . It did take a bit of fiddling from the outside to get the two pieces connected, because of the size of the top of the barrel, but it was worth the effort and works perfectly. I'll try to get a photo this weekend...
Kris, we found the faucets at our local Mennonite farm supply store. Dh didn't have to do anything inside the barrel, I guess you would say they were selftightening and or sealing. I don't know if you have any locally owed farm stores but that might be your best bet. Our pump to get the water out of the barrels or tanks is 1/2 hp.
darius, I purchase the white 55 gal. barrels and the blue 55 gal. barrels from a man along Hyw. 19 about 2 miles outside of Sulphur Springs, Texas in Hopkins county. He sells them for $8.00 each. I am sure he gets them from Ocean Spray (a local company) for free. They work really well cut in half as a container to garden in or with the top cut out as a rainbarrel. I should know where Limbo is, since I live in the State of Confussion. Sulphur Springs in located in Northeast Texas. Jerry
beare, we are almost neighbors, I live in Rowlett..
Checked out your blog, what a great set-up..what do you do with all those tomatoes, can them?
I was at a local feed and seed store yesterday and noticed for the first time they have a lot of large barrels in a back yard. Never thought to ask if they were for sale or how much they were, but sure will next time.
I was freecycled 2 of the 55 gal plastic drums a few weeks ago and cut them in half and now have things planted in them. I am seriously running out of room in my yard, but luckily DS lives next door and has a wide open back yard full of weeds and scrub grass...virgin territory in MY eyes..LOL I have been thinking of trying the bale gardening there, now I will also see about getting more of the plastic drums and plant in them, too.
Thanks to everyone for all the tips. Now I have a place to start...hoping we will get rain this year..
kris, we are neighbors. I have a brother that lives in Rowlett 1/2 a block from the lake. You live close enough to get barrels from the same place I do if they are too much there. I love my water system and this is my fourth year to use this container system, which I also love. I have been making a lot of salsa. Friends, family, neighbors, even a District Judge are all addicted at this point. I enjoy making it and they all enjoy eating it. I make some with "chile de arbol" last year and folks went wild... I am going to make marinara sauce and ketchup this year as well. If you ever come this way drop by and tour the "tomato forest". Thanks for checking out the blog. I place pictures on it from time to time so anyone interested can watch the progress. Just to know when the salsa is done, ya know...
I bought several food grade barrels 6 years ago from the old Gerber baby food factory in town (Asheville, at that time). They held imported fruit juices. I paid $8 each but had to clean them.Still have 2-3 in my storage unit.
Joy, guess what, I was coming to work this morning and I saw a pick-up parked in front of a house just on the edge of town. In the bed of the pick-up was one of those 275 gal. tanks in the aluminum gage. I stop and asked the guy where he got it and he told me the Cheese Store has a bunch of them around back. So I went to the Cheese Store and the fellow there sold me one for $40.00. I am going to use my pump to fill it from my rain barrels and then water from the 275 gal. tank. this bring my water storage up to 8 x 55 = 440 + 275 = 715 gal.s of water. So around 700 gal.s of water to get me between rains. Watering 50 plants. Hummmmmmmmm I don't know? Jerry
Beare you have sparked my interest, going to show this thread to my husband. He gets mad at me cause I leave 5 gal. buckets sitting around some of my plants filled with tap water letting the sun remove the chlorine. If I get him to make me up a system like yours I wouldn't have the buckets sitting around. Yours is a very clever ideal. Thanks
Linda, you are welcome! It was very simple to make and I can provide the measurements for the various fittings if your DH would like? If you click on the thumbnail pictures and enlarge them you can see better how the system is made. Best of luck!
I also like the way you have you tomatoes staked up. Last year we used the stuff you use when pouring concrete. We have a couple of rolls of the same fencing you are using, going to get my DH to use it this year. I have planted about 3 times more tomato plants then I did last year. Really enjoyed looking at your pictures.
Hey Kris, the Cheese Store is in Sulphur Springs also. Instead of turning right off of Interstate 30 onto Hwy. 19, you will turn left on Hwy 19 and go to the first Stop sign (approx. 2 or 3 miles). Go through that intersection and the Cheese Store will be about a hundred yards ahead on your left. Across from GSC. You can't miss it. The man I deal with there goes by "Junior"or "Jr." for short. LOL The tank fits in the back of a pick-up and I really like it! - Jerry
Thanks! Linda I appreciate folks taking a peek from time to time as I intend to post a running account of how the garden is doing. It's a way to share and learn from one another. I enjoy input , ideas and comments from others. Best of luck with your garden. Jerry
Love this thread. I have about 200 gallon capacity now and hope to add more. I have a question about all the systems I see in the photos. Why does everyone connect the barrels at the top?? If you connected them at the bottom you could have them all at the same height and would be able to draw all the water from one spigot. Also, only the first one would have to be open at the top. You would just need one overflow on any one of them for those wonderful times when the whole system is full.
Linda, I drill 1/4 inch holes in the bottom of my barrel/pots. One could place weed-X in the bottom and it might be a good idea. I have not had a problem with weeds or grass growing into the pots.
Victor & kris, I thought about a bottom connection, however for the spigot to work (well) you will have to raise all your barrel up to provide spigot clearance. Also with my barrels, I clean them rather frequently (due to alge build-up on the bottom of the barrels) and by each barrel being independent, this process is much easier to accomplish. Lastly, a bottom connect raises the spector of a leak, which I do not have to worry with having a top overflow system. I guess each has it's advantages but these are the reasons I went the way I did. Jerry
You're welcome Linda, I re-read my reply and I should have told you that I drill five or six holes. One in the center and the others at other places (all on the bottom) wherever I think water can best escape. Best of luck with your garden. Jerry
Wow Jerry, great job and great blog! :) I just don't see myself being able to tackle such a project right now, but I love it! I am very impressed with your forrest from last year. WOW!! You insprire me.
Just a thought... I know you have the pretty blue set up and all as your containers, but i just wanted to let folks know that they can also use the huge 20 gallon nursery pots that I have found some nurseries sell very cheaply. I have found many for free and a few were nickels and dimes. I used them for my huge wintersowing project this year, but I am certainly considering using them for some of my maters, as I seem to be running out of room. I too, cut them down with a jig saw, filled with soil and seeded them.
Thanks for the info. Susan ! I started out using those several years ago but found that in this HOT TX sun that it was hard to keep enough water in mine to keep them from drying out. I think that even the blue color heats up more than white would. However on the front end that's good. So that's why I went for the compromise of "blue". I use "white" for my rainbarrels. Black would work great in some cooler areas. Jerry
Yes, they do heat up for sure, which is good for my wintersowing, but something to consider when growing tomatoes.
Have you ever used the water absorbing polymers? I buy them bulk at http://www.watersorb.com/index.htm and all my containers get them mixed in to save on watering and keep them from drying out. Love them.
Yes, Joy I have been watering with the pump. Works great and I love the rate at which I can now water my plants. I have an attachment that softens the flow so I'm not digging holes in the soil. I really want to thank you for your post and picture. It sure has been a big help... THANKS! Jerry
Jerry the thanks goes to you. We have wanted to do something like your barrel system for a couple of years and could never quite figure it out.
I guess really the thanks goes to Dave and Dave's Garden that gives us the opportunity to share ideas across the country. I will continue to watch this thread and your blog to see what may be new in your neck of the woods.